I’ve been noodling with a serviceable, affordable system in my den; just upgraded the Audiolab 8000A amplifier with a Cambridge Audio CXA80 that I got for a steal on Craigslist. I’m running this through Sliverline Minuet Supreme Plus speakers. They sound nice, but I’m thinking about upgrading and moving them to another room. Also running a small sub to complement the small speakers.
Sources are Thorens TT and Roon running Tidal/Qobuz and FLAC files from Mac Mini / NAS. Onkyo SACD player.
Listening distance from speakers is 6-7 feet. Speakers are approx 6-7 feet apart, also.
Hard bop jazz (Dexter Gordon, Blue Mitchell, Horace Silver, Kenny Burrell, Coltrane/Davis, etc…), Piano jazz, tight rock stuff (Dire Straits, Steely Dan, Little Feat, Bruce Cockburn), acoustic stuff (Garcia/Grisman, Steve Tibbetts, Norman Blake)… Some classical. No country/rap/hiphop, etc…
Looking at a few options… would really need to find a good reason to justify the higher-end. (One justification would be that although the speakers would overmatch the CA CXA80, they would outlive this amp/system.
Based off your musical tastes, without a doubt I’d go with the P3SRs. In my experience, Harbeths reproduce piano and jazz instruments better than most speakers I’ve heard. You do have the exclamation point after the price, so that’s definitely saying something. My next choice would be the Evoke 10s. Still a fantastically warm and musical speaker at half the price. Based off the room size and the speaker placement, it might be a little tricky because they do have a rear port. With a rear firing port so close to the wall, the bass might be a little muddy and ill defined. Other than that, they will be perfect for this room and your music taste!
I am definitely tempted by the Harbeths, as they could certainly be the flagship of a much more audiophile-oriented system down the road. Need to decide whether the Anniversary Editions are worth the extra $500 or so.
Yeah, rear port is a consideration. As they sit now, the Silverlines (with a rear port also) are around 8" from the back wall. They’re around 9" deep, so the 11"-deep Dynaudios would be that much closer to the back wall.
Eeh, yeah the Anniversary Edition is a tricky one. I haven’t heard quite enough to have a strong opinion there.
With the immense number of pros that the Evokes have going for them, it would probably weigh out the port con. Most instruments will sound fantastic, but stand-up bass would be bloated.
The S400, measuring 365 x 180 x 240 mm (h x w x d), is a 2-way monitor with a big wave guide for the tweeter and a passive radiator on the back. I’ve seen speaker before with a wave guide and also a passive radiator, but what is a first for me is that the S400 has the tweeter with the waveguide on the bottom. Combined with a subtle tilt to the back (you notice when you look at the speakers from the sides) they managed to get a perfect phase allign between the woofer and the tweeter. The tweeter is 0,74" and is made from a soft fabric textile, the woofer measures 6" and is made from aluminium. The frequency response (+/- 3dB) is stated to be 33 - 40.000 Hz (in room), It has an impedance of 4 ohm and the efficiency is 88 dB (2,83 V / 1 m).
"From the lows to the mids, all the way to the highs, the presentation seems very accurate, sophisticated I would like to say, which is I’m guessing in part thanks to a fantastic designed cross over and waveguide, making the tweeter and woofer integrate perfectly. Vocals, both male and female, sound very realistic, as if you are lucky enough to have a private concert in your room. But it’s not just the vocals that sound so convincingly real, it’s basically every instrument that is reproduced with so much care. Because of this, I started to rediscover some amazingly well recorded jazz music. It’s so much fun to close your eyes and be able to tell exactly where every performer is in front of you, and hear even the smallest details hidden away in the background.
The way the S400 paint a sonic picture is really beyond their size, it sounds big, dynamic and with a stereo image and sense of front to depth that is simply stunning. There are other compact speakers which I think are amazing, like the LS3/5A or P3ESR I mentioned earlier, but while I think they sound great, they sound like compact speakers nonetheless. The S400 performs like a much bigger speaker than it actually is, as if your are listening to a bigger 3-way speaker, or a floorstander for example. And most commendable I guess is that it achieves this without creating a very hyped and boomy bass. Instead, the bass performance is solid, fast and tight. In my room and with my equipment, these little speakers basically seem flat down to 42 Hz. It’s pretty evident that they start to roll of fast below 42 Hz, but they still manage to provide some insight down to roughly 35 Hz, which I think is simply stunning for a speaker this compact."
I have a pair of Watkins Generation Fours in my bedroom setup. Bill Watkins Sr. passed away last year, he told me this is his best speaker he and his son every built. His son Bill Jr is one of the nicest and fair owners I’ve ever met. Bill Sr woofer design was used by Arnie Nudell in some of his Infinity speakers.
I’m running Focal Chorous 700 series in my office. The berilyium tweeter is a little bright, but I am driving it with a Triode (Japan) tube amp 18 wpc (EL 34’s) which help keep the tweeters in check.
You can get into a pair along with matching stands for under 1K
I also have a pair of KEF Q 150’s L/R channels of home theater rig and they sound quite nice for the money…$450 they can be placed on their sides if needed with no ill effect due to the uniQ driver. I have ISO Accoustic pucks under them. Might be an option if you were looking for “bridge” speakers until you were ready to pull the trigger on the Harbeths
I listened to Harbeths, did not care for them no sir.
I listened to LS50s and really liked what I heard, so I bought a pair.
I wish I would have listened to Dynaudio instead.
LS50s can sound amazing on this piece, and lifeless on the next. I am sad about that. I prefer my B&W 805n speakers to the 50s, but they are way more expensive and 15 years old. Used gear may be a good bet.
Odd company out here, but I was running Martin Logan 35XT’s and I found them to be very crisp and transparent. Not at all like their electro’s (which I don’t care for). The large AMT ribbon tweeters on the 35’s are very good.
I currently have LS50s and P3esrs in my listening room. When listened to nearfield, P3’s are unbelievable better at resolving detail and presenting a more well balanced presentation. Despite the coaxial design of the KEFs, the Harbeths have better coherency which translates to clarity and resolution that is completely intoxicating. Human voices are in the room and floating directly in front of you. Both of these are outstanding loudspeakers and require proper set up and electronics in order to sound as they should.
With that being said, the KEFs pull ahead in farfield set ups since they’re more dynamic and are capable of much high SPLs. The bass out of these little guys is downright impressive!
I was listening in the showroom of The Needle Doctor. I can’t recall the upstream gear. It struck me as too forward in the midrange, to the point where I just couldn’t enjoy it. They switched to the LS50’s and I damn near bought them on the spot. I came away thinking the Harbeths were just so very. I like less very. Lots of people love them, that I know.